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Forest range officers have been asked to monitor suspicious activities

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Trichy: Forest range officers have been asked to monitor suspicious activities involving exploitation of biological resources within and outside protected forest areas. This was conveyed at the meeting called by the Tamil Nadu Biodiversity Board (BCD) for the forest range officers from the six central districts in Trichy on Tuesday.

The meeting briefed them on their roles and functions as the secretary of biodiversity management committees (BMC) formed across the state at the block-level for implementing of the Biodiversity Act, 2002. “The act empowers forest officials to bring to book those found exploiting biological resources within and outside the forest area,” said A Udayan, secretary of Tamil Nadu biodiversity board.

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Citing the example of an incident in Pudukottai district where a case has been registered under the act for the first time in the state, he said the forest personnel managed to stop smuggling of worms found on the shores of coastal Pudukottai. “The forest department is now probing the motive of those engaged in largescale smuggling of these worms for a long time,” he said. All rare and unique biological resources including rare herbal plants that may benefit local stake holders will be documented so that the benefits of such herbs known to local experts can be preserved.

“Such places would be protected by the committee. However, ownership would remain with the locals without any change in land classification. In addition, they will be educated on its sustainable use,” he added. Udayan said that the work on preparing people’s biodiversity register is being carried out to document the diverse biological resources.

“The work on constituting the seven-member BMC began last April with locals interested in conservation activities,” he added. “The aim is to regulate commercial exploitation of biological resources. This can happen only by facilitating sustainable use of traditional biological resources which can be achieved by creating a mechanism for equitable sharing of benefits,” said K V Giridhar, managing director Tamil Nadu Forest Plantation Corporation Limited. “Our next objective is to have a bank account for each BMC for funding and we are awaiting government order for the same,” said Udayan.

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